Yesterday, a military court convicted U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs of the “thrill kill” murders of three Afghan civilians and sentenced him to life in prison. He was also convicted of 12 related charges, including taking fingers and teeth from the victims as trophies, which he compared to “keeping the antlers off a deer you’d shoot.”
Like virtually every known serial killer, Gibbs reportedly killed animals before moving on to human victims: Other members of his unit, one of whom called him “evil incarnate,” said Gibbs took pleasure in gunning down stray dogs.
Psychiatrists, FBI profilers, and law-enforcement officials have repeatedly documented that people who are cruel to animals are likely to turn that violence against humans. A study conducted by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans.
It may be that Gibbs’ acts of cruelty to animals started long ago, probably in childhood, just as was the case with school shooters Kip Kinkel, Luke Woodham, Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold. That’s why it is vital always to take acts of cruelty seriously, even when the perpetrators are children.
To save animal and human lives, report every instance of cruelty to animals to authorities. Today’s puppy torturer could be tomorrow’s thrill killer.
Written by Michelle Sherrow